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Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?

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Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 21, 2011 01:18PM
We are taking a road trip from DC to San Francisco, and will be driving through Yosemite. We are tight on time and will be in Yosemite for maybe 8-12 hours. What are must sees for such a short period? A short hike would be nice too.
avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 21, 2011 01:23PM
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katie
We are taking a road trip from DC to San Francisco, and will be driving through Yosemite. We are tight on time and will be in Yosemite for maybe 8-12 hours. What are must sees for such a short period? A short hike would be nice too.

What time of year?
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 21, 2011 03:27PM
The trip is planned for the middle of June.
avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 21, 2011 05:15PM
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katie
The trip is planned for the middle of June.

That's a great time to visit the park. This year, because of the heavy snowfall, Tioga Road through the park could very well still be closed when you visit. Still, there will be a lot of other sights to see. Of course visit Yosemite Valley. Nice short hikes there would be to the lower Yosemite Fall, to Mirror Lake, to the base of Bridalveil Fall and to the bridge over the Merced River in front of Vernal Falls. Also make time to visit Glacier Point (the road to Glacier Point should be open by then). Also while on Glacier Point Road, you can take a short one-mile hike to Sentinel Dome for a nice 360 degree view of Yosemite National Park.

If you still have time left, visit the Mariposa Grove of the Giant Sequoias located at the southend of the track. You can take a short hike around the lower grove, if you have time (and willing to spend some extra money) take an open air tram tour of the entire grove.

Or if you're planning to leave the park on Highway 120 West (towards San Francisco) you might want to take an excursion to the Hetch Hetchy dam and reservoir, still quite scenic despite the man-made dam.
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 21, 2011 01:42PM
The Valley.
If you go in the spring/early summer any valley floor hike is good because all of the waterfalls (Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil) will be going. You can hike to Mirror Lake (the pond) at this time of the year, also.
When you enter the park, the ranger will give you a newspaper that has a map of the valley, with listed shuttle stops. So, when you get to the valley park in the "day parkinglot" (like in Curry Village) and hop on the Yarts shuttle. They will announce each trailhead at each stop. Happy Isles is your best bet(all year falls). Within an hour or two you will get to see two of the most beautiful waterfalls (Vernal and Nevada).
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 21, 2011 02:25PM
The YARTS bus will take you out of Yosemite to El Portal and beyond. The free Valley shuttle is the one you want. Yosemite Guide Newspaper

If you're in Yosemite 8-12 hours, you must be sleeping nearby. Where have you booked your accommodations?
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 21, 2011 03:29PM
We are traveling in the middle of June and will be staying with friends in Mariposa. I would love to stay longer in Yosemite, but that will be a second trip. I just want a feel of the park this time around.
avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 21, 2011 05:40PM
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katie
We are traveling in the middle of June and will be staying with friends in Mariposa. I would love to stay longer in Yosemite, but that will be a second trip. I just want a feel of the park this time around.

You might want to check out just Yosemite Valley if it's a first trip with limited time.

A good snow year which likely means a good water year even into mid-June. I flashed through Yosemite Valley in late June 2006 when it was a good water year, and the waterfalls were all huge. I came back about the same time of year in 2007 and Yosemite Falls was a trickle. I'm thinking you'll be impressed.

Definitely check out all the easily accessible waterfalls (Yosemite Falls, Bridaveil Fall). You'll see Half Dome from almost anywhere. If you want to hike, the walk to Mirror Lake is easy. If you're a bit more adventurous, the Mist Trail up to Vernal Fall is a great short hike, although you'll probably get wet. It's only 3 miles round trip, but some consider it strenuous because it's steep at times and you're at higher altitude. You can easily get around Yosemite Valley by the shuttle. By June it will be running every few minutes.
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 21, 2011 07:17PM
You might also want to take one of the tram tours around the Valley floor (it'll finish by taking you up to the famous Tunnel View which, these days, is probably the single most recognizable shot of the Valley). It's a "touristy" thing to do, yes, but I was glad I did it on my first visit...a great way to see a bunch of the most famous sites and, depending on the guide, get a few or a lot of nice details pointed out.

A slight food warning which I wish I'd been given the first time I visited many years ago. If you park near the Village Store, the first food stand you'll see is the Yosemite Grill, right behind the store. Unless you're a big fan of fried food and hot dogs, this is probably one of the worst places in the Park to eat (IMO). Degnan's Deli and Pizza Loft (about halfway between the Store and the Visitor Center) is much better if you're looking for speed. If you're taking time for a restaurant meal, you'd want either the Ahwahnee or the Mountain Room (over by the Yosemite Lodge). If you're in the southern part of the park, I'm a big fan of the dining room at the Wawona Hotel.

--David

P.S. You should start planning your return trip now...you WILL want to come back! smiling smiley
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 22, 2011 11:26AM
Thanks guys for all the great suggestions. Based on your descriptions, I might not want not want to leave. I will definitely check out the valley and the shorter hikes, and maybe even the tram. We are relocating for work in San Francisco, so I will definitely want to come back to Yosemite, but it will probably be a year or so. Can you guys recommend places to eat in the valley?
avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 22, 2011 12:19PM
Yosemite Lodge

The cafeteria for just plain food
The Mountain Room if you want something a bit more quite and fancy.

For pizza go to The Loft above Degnan's Deli

Sunday brunch at the Ahwahnee is supposed to be really nice, but expensive!
avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 22, 2011 09:43PM
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qumqats
Sunday brunch at the Ahwahnee is supposed to be really nice, but expensive!

Sunday brunch at the Ahwahnee is great, but unless you bring along a big appetite, it's quite pricey.

On the other hand, I enjoy having lunch (Monday - Saturday) at the Ahwahnee Dining Room -- hands down the best tasting lunch option available in the valley (and the prices are pretty reasonable for the quality of the food served).
avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 22, 2011 10:00PM
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katie
Can you guys recommend places to eat in the valley?

Recommended: the Ahwahnee Dining Room (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Sunday Brunch), Degnan's Deli in Yosemite Village (Breakfast, Lunch), Degnan's Loft (Pizzas, Soups & Salads) (Dinner only), the Pizza Deck at Curry Village (Lunch, Dinner), the Mountain Room at the Yosemite Lodge (Dinner only).

Avoid the Curry Village Pavilion (Breakfast, Dinner) -- An all you can eat buffet of the worst tasting food you can find in the valley -- think of it as bad high school cafeteria food. Also avoid the Village Grill in Yosemite Village -- bad tasting burgers and stuff that you might find at a mediocre concession stand at a ballpark or amusement park.

The Yosemite Lodge Food Court is o.k. -- not great, not bad, though their egg omelets are very good the days they decide to serve them. And for burgers, the Yosemite Lodge Food Court is a better option than the Village Grill, though the burgers at the Food Court aren't really noteworthy either.
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 23, 2011 06:08AM
FWIW, I'd second everything plawrence says (I haven't eaten at the Curry Village sites but his assessments are consistent with what I've heard others say).

There's also the Mountain View Lounge (or do they call it something else...I can never remember) which is in a separate building right next to Mountain Room. It's mostly a bar but, on a cold, rainy night, there's a nice big open-on-all-sides fireplace in the middle of the room and you can get a fairly typical bar menu along with your drinks (only ate in there once about 5 years ago but I seem to remember it was pretty good).

As an aside, it seems like Degnan's has done away with the cutesy names on their sandwiches. As I recall, the choice of sandwiches is still pretty much the same but I kind of miss being able to get a Tuolumne or a San Joaquin instead of a Turkey & Cheese (must be something to do with my "inner tourist!" tongue sticking out smiley)
avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 23, 2011 08:54AM
Oh, the deli. It is honestly our favorite place to grab a bit to eat. I too miss the Yosemite names... Cloud's Rest, Three Brothers, Yosemite Sam, Lost Arrow, San Joaquin.... now they are just sandwiches, but still very tasty. Gets crowded around lunchtime, so order early or later (many of the village food options close around 5:00 except the loft). Take the sandwich to a nearby serene environment... a meadow, stream, river, hike...

Second favorite place is the Pizza Loft above. Wouldn't eat anywhere else except my campsite!
avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 23, 2011 09:24AM
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robinjayp
Oh, the deli. It is honestly our favorite place to grab a bit to eat. I too miss the Yosemite names... Cloud's Rest, Three Brothers, Yosemite Sam, Lost Arrow, San Joaquin.... now they are just sandwiches, but still very tasty. Gets crowded around lunchtime, so order early or later (many of the village food options close around 5:00 except the loft). Take the sandwich to a nearby serene environment... a meadow, stream, river, hike...

Second favorite place is the Pizza Loft above. Wouldn't eat anywhere else except my campsite!

I remember the place. Before I set off on my winter hike of Upper Yosemite Fall Trail, I went there in the morning and got a large sandwich to pack for lunch. I ate part of it near the bridge over Yosemite Creek. I think that morning I had their breakfast special, which was sausage gravy over buttermilk biscuits. It was cheap too - something like $2.
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 23, 2011 04:03PM
Thank-you for all the recommendations. After driving in the car and eating mostly snacks for days, the Ahwahnee seem like it will be a worthy treat. I will definitely check that out. I have Curry Village food unchecked!
avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 24, 2011 01:03AM
Just a quick note about the Ahwahnee Dining Room: they do have a dress code for dinner. If you don't want to deal with their dress code, just go there for either breakfast, brunch, or lunch.

(And if you want to have an upscale fine dining dinner in Yosemite Valley without having to dress up, the Mountain Room at the Yosemite Lodge would be your option.)
avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 24, 2011 01:58AM
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plawrence
. . . snip . . .
(And if you want to have an upscale fine dining dinner in Yosemite Valley without having to dress up, the Mountain Room at the Yosemite Lodge would be your option.)
If it's still light outside, ask if you can get a table with a view of Yosemite Falls. They have a floor to ceiling picture window with an amazing view! smiling smiley
avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 23, 2011 09:15AM
First trip there with limited time available then the valley is a must. Even though that's where all the rude, loud people are it's also the most stunning experience for a first-time visitor. I agree with going on the Happy Isles trailhead and going up the Mist Trail to Nevada and Vernal Falls. If you still have time after the hike is finished, drive up (or take the shuttle if it's available, which I think it is) to Glacier Point. No matter what your time limit is, try to be in one of the valley meadows for sunset, in my opinion smiling smiley. The red/orange colors reflecting off the granite walls in contrast with the (hopefully) pink/blue skies and green grass is one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen. If you've never seen Giant Sequoias then it might be worth trying to allocate more time and seeing one of the Yosemite groves while you're there. It's surreal the first time you see a tree as wide as a cabin.





http://www.flickr.com/photos/dqniel/
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 23, 2011 04:06PM
Wonderful photo! I will try as many recommendations as I can. The Happy Isles/Mist Trail/Nevada/Vernal Falls hike sounds great! I guess based on timing, I can go as far as I can and turn around.
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
May 09, 2011 12:08AM
The problem is that you might not want to turn around.
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 23, 2011 05:03PM
Just drive into the valley, and you will be overwhelmed with things to do. You won't have enough time.
avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 23, 2011 09:03PM
Another must see: As you enter the valley, you will see this rare breed that is native to Yosemite. You will be able to identify them because of their necks - they will sticking out sideways of the windows of their cars gawking at the valley. They also are known to stop in the middle of the road to take in the full splendor that surrounds them. Keep a close watch out for them, as you don't want to hit one with your car! (I think we are all descendants of this breed....)

I think I might try to take a picture of the phenomenon when I visit again in July. It really is quite spectacular! smiling smiley
avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 23, 2011 09:21PM
Quote
robinjayp
Another must see: As you enter the valley, you will see this rare breed that is native to Yosemite. You will be able to identify them because of their necks - they will sticking out sideways of the windows of their cars gawking at the valley. They also are known to stop in the middle of the road to take in the full splendor that surrounds them. Keep a close watch out for them, as you don't want to hit one with your car! (I think we are all descendants of this breed....)

I think I might try to take a picture of the phenomenon when I visit again in July. It really is quite spectacular! smiling smiley

avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 24, 2011 09:53PM
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eeek


Ah, the view of the Tunnel View vista point before its "landscaping" makeover.
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 30, 2011 09:41AM
Haha. You guys are funny. Yosemite is not so unique then, I see this phenomenon regularly! I am one!
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 30, 2011 12:40PM
I see that everyday in San Francisco. It is quiet a nuisance.
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
May 06, 2011 02:12PM
Well, I am moving there, so I guess I will find out :-).
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
May 06, 2011 01:17AM
Is there a tourist package deal from outside the states where they just drive you around all the national parks?
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
May 09, 2011 08:57AM
You guys crack me up. Where do do these tourists on the buses stay? Mostly daytrips I assume.
avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
May 09, 2011 12:05PM
Probably, though a number of tour groups traveling in tour busses will stay overnight at the Yosemite Lodge on occasion.
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 24, 2011 04:23PM
Haha. At first, I was wondering what the heck you were talking about. Now I understand. This will be my first time in Yosemite as well (as an adult, don't remember much as a toddler). I will keep note of these must sees and will check them out.
avatar Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 24, 2011 07:10PM
I have seen the most concentration of this phenomenon right after the turn to/from Bridalveil when the valley opens up and meadows surround the area, but you might see it at tunnel view, along the valley floor or any viewing area. If you are lucky you might also see an abandoned car with doors open and no one inside blocking two lanes of traffic. You will usually find the missing occupants taking a picture..... of a deer.... or a squirrel... seen this first hand. Good times!
Re: Day Trip - Must Sees?
April 30, 2011 05:22PM
They are actually pretty helpful. This phenomenon are like "bookmarks" for "Must See." That way, you don't accidentally miss those spots!
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